Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.369, No.3, 818-823, 2008
Molluscan mobile elements similar to the vertebrate -Recombination-Activating Genes
Animal genomes contain similar to 20,000 genes. Additionally millions of genes for antigen receptors are generated in cells of the immune system from the sets of separate gene segments by a mechanism known as the V(D)J somatic recombination. The components of the V(D)J recombination system, Recombination-Activating Gene proteins (RAG1 and RAG2) and recombination signal sequence (RSS), are thought to have "entered" the vertebrate genome as a hypothetical "RAG transposon". Recently discovered mobile elements have terminal inverted repeats (TIRs) similar to RSS and may encode proteins with a different degree of similarity to RAG1. We describe a novel N-RAG-TP transposon identified from the sea slug Aplysia californica that encodes a protein similar to the N-terminal part of RAG1 in vertebrates. This refines the "RAG transposon" hypothesis and allows us to propose a scenario for V(D)J recombination machinery evolution from a relic transposon related to the existing mobile elements N-RAG-TP, Chapaev, and Transib. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.